Tonjiru for the soul.


Chances are if you have ever traveled or lived abroad you truly appreciate the importance of comfort food. Does it strike anyone else how favorite comfort foods from home are so difficult to buy or replicate abroad? What gives? Or maybe it’s a reverse psychological effect “gimme what I can’t get” deal. Smoked bacon, pepperjack cheese, and unsweetened peanut butter give me the most trouble in Japan. They are obtainable, but the effort it takes to get them puts a damper on their deliciousness.

Today I was reflecting on the move to India. Not only will food from the US be hard to find, but Japanese food as well. I began to mentally tick off my comfort foods here in Japan. Tonjiru is definitely in my top five. Essentially it is a more substantial miso soup with the added savory flavor of pork. Culturally, I’d liken it to chicken soup back home, minus the magical healing properties.

How to wing it:

Pot full of water. Bring to a boil.
Add bite size carrot, onion, daikon radish, asparagus (really, any veggie that is good in soup. color is important though–looking for white, orange, and green). Boil until soft.
Add bite size tofu and konjac (which Wikipedia just informed me is also referred to as: devil’s tongue, voodoo lily, and snake palm. hell yeah.)
Add minced pork (the more you add the greasier, yummier it gets)
Reduce heat to simmer. Add in miso (never boil miso. my first homestay mom taught me this. I don’t know what happens if you do because she made me too afraid to ever try it.) When serving, add chopped green onion & sprinkle with shichimi (seven flavor chili pepper)

I know I can’t get konjac in India and tofu is doubtful. I intend to bring a suitcase full of miso, but I don’t expect it to last long. And so the pining begins even though it has been less than four hours since my last bowl. Anyone know the Indian equivalent to chicken soup or tonjiru? There must be one!


2 thoughts on “Tonjiru for the soul.

Add yours

  1. This is still one of my favorites that plays well here with my American hubby (I got it right this time!!) A while back I added two interesting twists that are completely “non-traditional” but oh so good. I add a spoon of butter and minced garlic at the end. You might try it! I find the best thing about Japanese homecooking is that most dishes are economical. Buy the way, in the version of tonjiru that I learned from my housewife days on Sado Island, we did not use tofu. In regular miso soup yes of course, but we did not have tofu in our tonjiru. I cannot say why.


    1. Thanks for your comment! I will absolutely be trying a dab of butter and dollop of garlic next time I make it. Great tip! And interesting about the tofu. My recipe is inspired by the chain restaurant Matsuya’s–they have tofu in theirs (also, satooimo and gobou, which I’ve left out of mine).


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